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Branches of Baltimore History

Archive for February, 2011

Four Historic Baltimore Synagogue Buildings

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Lloyd Street Synagogue B’nai Israel Synagogue Madison Avenue Temple Eutaw Place Temple

The Lloyd Street Synagogue stands just off Corned Beef Row in Old Town, Baltimore. Founded in 1830, the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation worshiped in an apartment above a grocery store until 1845 when the Robert Cary Long, Jr. designed building at Lloyd and Watson Streets was completed. The third oldest synagogue in America, the subtle Greek Revival style structure served its founding membership for 45 years. In 1890 the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation moved to the Madison Avenue Temple. Lloyd Street was subsequently occupied by two Catholic and two Jewish congregations until 1963 when it was abandoned. The Jewish Museum of Maryland purchased the noble structure shortly thereafter, restoring the synagogue as a shrine. The basement contains traditional matzoh oven and a ritual bath, while the interior and exterior represent the building’s historic aesthetic.

Next door to the Lloyd Street building is the beautiful B’nai Israel Synagogue. Designed by Henry Berge and dedicated in 1875, the Victorian Gothic style structure contains detailed facade stonework. Berge, the father of sculptor Edward Berge, was a master stonecutter and apparently a very talented architect. Dedicated in 1875 as the Chizuk Amuno Synagogue, the building was purchased in 1895 by the Russian/Polish B’nai Israel Congregation. The group still occupies the synagogue today. The Jewish Museum of Maryland was built on the lot between the Lloyd Street and B’nai Israel synagogues.

When the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation moved out of the Lloyd Street Synagogue (1890) they relocated to the Madison Avenue Temple in Bolton Hill. Deigned by Baltimore architect Charles L. Carson, the building is Byzantine in style and features a massive dome and two parallel octagonal towers. Carson also designed the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church next to the Washington Monument. In 1951 the Berea Temple of Seventh Day Adventists purchased the temple when the BHC moved to their current location on Park Heights Avenue.

Just south of the Madison Avenue Temple is Joseph Evans Sperry’s Eutaw Place Temple. Originally built for Temple Oheb Shalom, the Byzantine structure, decorated with Beaver Dam marble, was completed in 1892. When the congregation moved out in 1960, the Price Hall Masonic Lodge purchased the Bolton Hill property. Dedicated in 1907, the Francis Scott Key Monument stands directly in front of the temple. The fountain memorial depicts Francis Scott Key on a small boat offering his patriotic poem to a golden statue of Columbia.

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February 23rd, 2011 at 8:37 am

The Grave of Elijah Jefferson Bond

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Elijah Bond was best known for filing the first United States patent for the Ouija board. Born in Harford County, MD in 1847, Bond became a successful lawyer in Baltimore City, starting his own practice in the 1870s. He filed the Ouija patent on behalf of the Kennard Novelty Company in 1891. Elijah Bond died in 1921 and was anonymously buried in his family’s plot at Green Mount Cemetery. Robert Murch, America’s foremost Ouija historian, after fifteen years of searching, located the ambiguous grave. Murch erected the Ouija-themed headstone in 2008. The cemetery’s mausoleum is nearby.

Written by monumentcity

February 12th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

War of 1812 Bomb and Rack

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This War of 1812 Bomb and Rack is positioned on Redwood Street between South Street and S. Calvert Street. The central downtown location is across from the Joseph Evans Sperry and J. B. Noel Wyatt designed Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company building. Fired from a British warship during the Battle of Baltimore, the bomb was found inside Fort McHenry after the historic engagement. An officer retained possession of the artifact, eventually gifting it to iron merchant Michael Keyser who, in turn, gifted it to the city. The monument was dedicated in 1863, was knocked over during the Great Fire of 1904, and rededicated in 1906. According to a 1905 map of Baltimore City, the Bomb and Rack mark the spot of the Keyser Building.

The Rack, where the bomb sits, was used to bend iron bars so they could fit inside Conestoga wagons. Used extensively during the 18th and 19th Centuries, the horse, mule or oxen drawn carriages could carry up to eight tons and were the American military’s primary cargo vehicle until the the arrival of the railroad. The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Inventory of state monuments lists the War of 1812 Bomb and Rack under their Baltimore City category.

Written by monumentcity

February 4th, 2011 at 2:44 pm